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Another topic got me thinking.....
As part of another topic in the forum, I posted the following.

With the advent of the digital age, which has dramatically increased our ability to share memories across nations in minutes, we are also slowly losing our hard copy records.

Over time, people are printing fewer and fewer photos and not as likely to keep them in albums. Year after year, the paper record of our lives is diminishing.

What are your thoughts on this?

I have a mindful of thoughts but wantd to pose the question first.

Nos an modica tantum nostri somnium
"We are limited only by our imagination"
Jerry - I spoke to this point a bit in the other thread...
Rob, I took the liberty of copying it over for discussions purposes.

"jericho wrote:

Year after year, the paper record of our lives is diminishing. "

Toad wrote:

This is another good point against printing your own photos vs using a lab. Home printed photos are non-archival and the emulsion can be easily scratched (unlike lab photos). This gives a false sense of preservation with regard to prints.

Except for prints that have been heat damaged, a 40 year old lab printed photo looks pretty much as good today as when it was new. This cannot be said about photos printed by home printers. B&W prints made in a lab wil survive us all.

Most photos printed in a lab whether they were taken by a digital or analog camera are chemically processed. Photo paper is exposed to light and given a chemical bath - in a home printer, ink jets spray tiny pixels of die on a sheet of photo paper. This just doesn't last and is VERY easily damaged. So the price you pay for lab processing vs home printing is just not apples to apples.

I have a decent Epson photo printer, but I will probably never use it for printing a photo again. Not only are the photos not as durable as lab photos, but they cost a lot. My Epson DRINKS expensive ink. Meanwhile the photo place on the corner will print me an 8x10 using proper technology for $4. When I factor in the cost of the paper I waste printing myself, there is just no significant financial or qualitative reason for printing my own stuff .

As for Jerry's question about the loss of paper record of our lives - good point. It is a strong argument for film vs digital. A good transparency will only improve as scanning and printing technology improves - ensuring better and better print capabilities as techology improves - but the images of today's digital cameras will probably look sadly inadequate in 20 years - at least without heavy interpolation and other software tricks.

Just my $.02
Nos an modica tantum nostri somnium
"We are limited only by our imagination"
I think I print more now than when I shot film.

And I never got "big" prints until I went digital.

So from my personal perspective I'll disagree, though I think on average you're probably right.
Everybody got to elevate from the norm!
Well, I am not sure that the real question is whether we are losing our printed history, but whether or not we are losing our visual history altogether. A few points to consider...

1. We should be much more concerned about rapidly changing standards in storage formats and media than we are. If you are a serious hobbyist, you will probably convert your old jpegs and other formats (can you say "proprietary RAW format"?) to something better when you upgrade your gear, but there will undoubtably be millions of digital family pictures taken by Mom and Pop that will be lost altogether due to format changes. Let's just toss those CDs full of jpgs over there in the box with the 8-tracks, casettes and VHS/beta videos...

2. In the past it would take a house fire or something of similar magnitude to wipe out a collection of memorabilia. Now - A simple hard drive failure will do the trick most effectively for most of us.

3. Will CDs and other storage media really last? How do we know? Anybody seen a movie made in the 70s that didn't use Technicolor lately? It's pretty much unviewable. We have a pretty good understanding of how long paper lasts if stored properly - thousands of years. Even photos done around the turn of the century are holding up pretty well.

Not trying to sound like a Luddite...
Wow good points everyone, especially with the standards and future compatibility.

Just some thoughts:

With digital, there is a higher chance of conversion to a compatible format in the future, than with film.

Prints with digital can be reprinted. Yes, they may fade, but just print them again. If you can find the file, that is. Big Grin

Yes the paper record of our lives is diminishing - but arguably, we live in a age of electronic documents and digital copies. It's probably a sign of the times. Where we used to have photo on our cubicle walls at work, we might now have photo screen savers on our monitors. Where we used to make double prints at the lab and pass some on to our friends, now we just email them or post them online.

But you're right. Sometimes I wish I could view my photo collection without sitting at my computer. Digital photo frame, anyone?
My spare room would argue to the contrary, I have boxes of prints.

Of course the fact I compete in print competitions twice a month may effect that Big Grin
I know there are lots of others using this site... post up people. Looking for more opinions here......
Nos an modica tantum nostri somnium
"We are limited only by our imagination"
Personally, I've thrown out most of my early prints, mainly because I wasn't overly happy with them. I've saved pretty much every shot I've made in the last year, which has all been digital, but still, I'm not the kind of guy to keep stuff Smile I don't print out my digital shots (yet), but I think I'm going to start soon. I wouldn't even consider using my own printer - I'd get it done professionally and place them in a portfolio.
"Imagination is more important than knowledge"

- Albert Einstein
I'm still trying to sort out how I want to deal with the photos I take... I was never much of a shutterbug before digital precisely because it seemed silly to have hundreds of prints in a shoebox that you never see... photo albums are just too much darn work... the answer? I dunno...

The appeal of digital for me is this:

I can share my photos almost in real time (recently, I spent an afternoon shooting a buddy's we lad -- burned a CD for them before I left)

I can share my photos with many people at once - wherever they are. Shutterfly, Photobucket and email allow me to share my life with anyone...

As a hobbyist genealogist/historian, however, there is a serious problem... how to decide what photos will be important/interesting to those who come after me? What is the best way to preserve them? I have a suitcase (yes, a suitcase!) of old family photos... most have no labelling at all -- my Mom and I are going through them to figure out who's who... There has to be a better way! For me, the web is the answer... The web development community is obsessed with backward compatibility which addresses Toad's beta and 8-track concerns... I'm sure yet how the web can achieve reliable photo-archiving but I'm working on it....
Camera: Panasonic Lumix FZ10
Image Management/Editing:ArcSoft PhotoBase4
Advanced Image Editing: Adobe PhotoShop 7

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Another topic got me thinking.....00